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Wife rights during separation before a divorce

Updated March 16, 2017

As a woman heading toward a divorce you need to understand your rights. This includes your rights during separation before a divorce case actually commences. In the end, the only way you can protect and preserve your rights is by educating yourself on these and related issues.

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There are two potential types of separation before a divorce. A formal separation includes the involvement of the court and certain orders that protect your rights. An informal separation does not involve the court and there are no judicial orders in place to protect your interests.


A wife is in a far better position to protect and maintain her rights and interests if there is a legal separation order in place before a divorce. Absent such an order, you may lack the necessary power to enforce or protect your rights.

Time Frame

An order of legal separation particularly is beneficial if there is more than a few months between your physical separation from your husband and the commencement of a divorce case.


During the period of separation, as a wife you have the right to an equitable share of the assets from the marriage. Some states consider this to be an even 50 per cent split of the assets (community property states) while others employ a fairness standard that is less precise.


One right you maintain is to vie for primary custody of your children. Lacking primary custody, you have the right to "reasonable and regular" parenting time (visitation). Reasonable and regular usually is one overnight with the children during the week, weekends and alternating holidays. An extended period of parenting time during the summer is typical.

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About the Author

Mike Broemmel began writing in 1982. He is an author/lecturer with two novels on the market internationally, "The Shadow Cast" and "The Miller Moth." Broemmel served on the staff of the White House Office of Media Relations. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and political science from Benedictine College and a Juris Doctorate from Washburn University. He also attended Brunel University, London.

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